Engaging Faith | Wed, Apr 23, 2014
Second Sunday of Easter [a]
April 27, 2014
Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern
1 Peter 1:3-9
April 25: World Malaria Day
April 25: National Arbor Day
April 27: Divine Mercy Sunday
May 1: May Day, International Worker’s Day, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
“We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity.”
- Pope Benedict XVI, “Urbi et Orbi” message, Easter 2007
“The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.”
- Pope John XXIII, “Mater et Magistra,” No. 157
“The church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate. In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies.’"
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Economic Justice for All,” No. 104
“Jesus does not exclude anyone. Some of you, perhaps, might say to me: But, Father, I am certainly excluded because I am a great sinner: I have done terrible things, I have done lots of them in my life. No, you are not excluded! Precisely for this reason you are the favorite, because Jesus prefers sinners, always, in order to forgive them, to love them. Jesus is waiting for you to embrace you, to pardon you. Do not be afraid.”
- Pope Francis, Aug. 25, 2013
“The Church needs your compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world. Let us together express our spiritual closeness to the ecclesial communities and to all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution. We must fight every form of discrimination!”
- Pope Francis, Feb. 23, 2014
Thoughts for your consideration
The first reading from Acts reminds us of the commitment by the early Christian community to the communal life. They shared whatever they had and held all their possessions in common. They responded to the needs of all, especially the poor. We might think of applying this to our personal lives and to our local communities. However, it might be even more fruitful to apply this on the level of nations and international institutions. Such an application might challenge us to look at issues of global development, international trade, global climate change, agriculture policy, worker’s rights, immigration, and educational opportunity in a new, challenging and creative way.
The experience of Thomas in John’s gospel seems to invite us to consider issues of faith and inclusion. Thomas seems to be troubled because he has not enjoyed the experience of the rest of the disciples. We might say that he desires to be included in their community of faith. Thomas experiences doubt and uncertainty. We might apply this to our personal struggle to be included and our personal effort to come to faith; however, we might also apply it to level of nations and to all the structures and institutions of the international community. Not only do individuals struggle with questions of inclusion, but whole nations, cultures, and classes of people do as well.
As peoples experience injustice they can feel excluded. The faith of all of us might in some way come into doubt as we find ourselves isolated and divided by injustice. We might find that it is hard to believe in a God of resurrection and new life, unless we are committed to a faith that works for justice in our society, unless we work for a world that includes justice for all.
Whenever the risen Jesus appears we seem to hear the message: “Peace be with you.” What an amazing thing it would be if we always communicated peace as we connected with people. What a wonderful gift it would be if Christians shared peace and worked for peace in every encounter with others. That seems to be what the risen Jesus is about.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What issues that arise in our world make it difficult for you to believe in the risen Jesus? Would a renewed commitment to justice and peace help you to have a stronger and more powerful faith?
In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the disciples devoted themselves to the communal life. In what ways to do you find yourself devoted to the communal life? How do you devote yourself to service, justice, and peace?
Nothing More Than Nothing
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” came the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said.
“I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow – not heavily, not in a raging blizzard – no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch – nothing more than nothing, as you say – the branch broke off."
Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.
The dove, an authority on this since the time of Noah, thought about the story for awhile, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”
Actions - Links
ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures.
Take online action at http://www.one.org/us/
Justice for Workers
May 1 is the international workers’ day. Interfaith Worker Justice calls upon our religious values in order to educate, organize, and mobilize the religious community in the United States on issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits and working conditions for workers, especially low-wage workers.
Discover more at http://www.iwj.org
90 percent of modern war casualties are civilians – primarily women and children.
Two million children have been killed in war in the last 20 years.
In the last 5,600 years, there have been only 292 years of peace.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Risen Jesus, lead us to new life.
For a deeper faith that will be lived in the works of justice and peace, we pray…
For a powerful faith that will lead our world to an effective respect for life, we pray…
For an end to the death and suffering that follows from our wars and fighting, we pray…
For justice for all workers and work for all who need it, we pray…
For an end to hunger and homelessness in our world, we pray…
For a new spirit of care and respect for every human person, we pray…
For a new spirit of joyful acceptance of our diversity, we pray…
For a renewed human community, healed of all divisions, we pray…
For Prayer and Meditation
From the “Urbi et Orbi” message of Pope Francis on Easter 2014:
Risen Lord, help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.
Risen Lord, help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.
Risen Lord, enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.
Risen Lord, enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.
Risen Lord, comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.
Risen Lord, comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.
Risen Lord, we ask you to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.
Risen Lord, we pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!
Risen Lord, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Risen Lord, we beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic, a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria, and an end to the acts of violence in South Sudan.
Risen Lord, we ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation in Venezuela.
Risen Lord, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future.